CompTIA UK Technology Community Meeting: Bristol 2022
TL;DR: The CompTIA UK Technology Community Meeting takes place each quarter, and this time took place in the city of Bristol. Members of the community heard panel discussions on a range of topics, and took advantage of networking opportunities throughout the day.
Then, in the evening, the Spotlight Awards Dinner took place, celebrating the achievements of CompTIA members, and the good they do for the community.
The key themes for this meeting were Growth, Resilience and Diversity.
The event took place at:
Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel
On the 16th June 2022
Powerful Insights from Women in Tech
The meeting kicked off with an all-female panel discussion: Powerful Insights from Women in Tech
The topics included:
- Nurturing talent and education
- Role models
There were some great takeaways from this session.
On the subject of encouraging more women into technology, especially young people, Amanda talked about taking computing into schools and “Getting them to take them apart. Encouraging the girls, especially, to do something more practical.”
Suzanne said: “Going out into schools and talking about careers in IT is the best way to improve diversity in the industry. It’s not just a load of maths!”
They opened up questions to the floor. Where among the questions, Marino Vigliotti shared his own experiences highlighting the importance of diversity in our industry.
Morning Breakout Sessions
The second session of the day allowed the delegates to break off into two groups. One for MSPs and another for vendors and distributors.
I attended the session for the Managed Service Providers.
- One person said they outsourced some of their work to another MSP as a strategic partnership
- Another said they have a vetting process for their outsourced contractors
- Testimonials, case studies and seeing if their values are aligned with yours were all suggested too
- However, one member of the audience said they would never outsource their services, because it’s too much of a risk to their reputation
Then the discussion delved further into Service Level Agreements (SLAs)
- Some agreed that SLAs were good as a guide, but few rarely enforce them
- Although another person suggested if you’re arguing over whether you’re meeting your SLAs with your customers, they’re probably not going to be customers for very long
We finished the session debating whether or not you should add in a disclaimer for customers who choose to ignore your advice. There were arguments for and against a disclaimer, though it really does depend on the situation.
Following lunch, members of the CompTIA Exec Board gave us some community updates.
The suggestions from the previous community meeting were written up to be put forward to the board:
- Jobs board
- Representing CompTIA at Government
- Training and talent Pool
- Promote CompTIA outside of certifications
- Signpost resources
Marie Cronin gave an update on the Certification structure at CompTIA.
Then, Benjamin ‘Franky’ Franklin from Bluescreen IT gave a presentation on the Tech All Stars Cyber Academy. An initiative designed to help professional footballers who don’t make the premier league develop the skills for cybersecurity job opportunities.
Launched in Liverpool, they deliver training through evening classes, three days a week. They utilise CompTIA Certmaster products and Hack the Box provide contextualised learning through simulations.
UK 2022 Trends in Managed Services
Some of the findings were as follows:
Since January 2022, 64% MSPs came out on par or ahead following the pandemic.
Approach to Managed Services:
- Pure Play MSPs (37%)
- Hybrid MSPs (63%)
The three biggest concerns for MSPs are:
- Macroeconomic crises (44%)
- Supply Chain/Logistics Disruptions (43%)
- Cashflow (42%)
Top Five Managed Services Offerings are:
- Network services (59%)
- Business services (57%)
- Helpdesk/IT support services (57%)
- Cloud services (55%)
- Storage services (54%)
To dive deeper into the Managed Services trends analysis, you can find the full results here.
2022 Trends Panel Discussion
Jason hosted the panel discussion with contributions from:
Some of the observations the panel made against the results were insightful. The main takeaways I got from them were:
- COVID-19 has helped setting MSPs on a better path of service provision. Remote working and more comprehensive cloud offerings give us the opportunity to make our offerings more resilient
- We’ve moved from being on-sellers to educators: providing expertise to help our customers use their tools to better serve their own businesses
- There are opportunities for MSPs to add premium professional services to their offering. The challenge is how quickly we can churn these out
If there was another sudden economic downturn, there are a few suggested actions you can take to prevent bigger losses:
- Upskilling your workforce – Financial Directors that cut their technical workforce struggle to recover. Though they might save money to begin with
- Ensure cybersecurity budgets aren’t cut too much – It’s so important to mitigate against critical data loss. So review the cost of coverage and go with an option that suits you in leaner times
- Insist on raising your prices even if times are hard – Regardless of inflation, you should increase your prices to ensure that your value remains the same
Finally, the panel suggested some useful resources:
- The Technology Buyer’s Journey
- CompTIA ISAO Membership (available to corporate CompTIA members only)
- Marketing Toolkit for MSPs (available to corporate CompTIA members only)
CompTIA ISAO Update
MJ Shoer, CompTIA Chief Community Officer gave an update on the latest news from CompTIA ISAO to the CompTIA UK Technology Community.
Diversity and Allies in Tech
Diversity is important in representing everyone in the technology industry, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, age, neurodiversity or disability. To help promote diversity we should be open and ask questions if we don’t understand, become an ally and establish role models.
Closing Panel: Three MSPs’ Journeys Tackling Security, Staffing and Growth
The final session of the community meeting was led by James Steel of Linode, where a panel of three IT experts gave their experiences on tackling three common issues facing MSPs and IT businesses today.
The panel consisted of:
Here are a few of the questions James asked the panel and their responses:
Q: How do we encourage uptake of cybersecurity services?
Andrew: Don’t sell – expose them to the potential risks and advise accordingly.
David: Bundle cybersecurity in to your offering. Don’t leave that door open to potential risks.
Hollie: Being careful with people’s sensitive data is very important. We look at the accreditations of the people we work with to ensure they hold similar values.
Q: Do you outsource cybersecurity?
David: Security has always been baked-in to everything we do, but vendors can help us with securing the stack we provide.
Andrew: Vendors really have to sell us their solutions, because we can’t risk gambling with our customers’ data.
Hollie: Phishing is the greatest risk to our business, so we put our staff through regular testing to avoid these risky situations.
Q: Recruiting new staff: How do you get graduates on board for a career in IT?
Andrew: Recruiting trainees from university takes time, but you have to invest now for the future.
David: If you have a recruitment problem, you have a retention problem. Fixing your culture can mean less turnover.
Hollie: We start recruiting before the graduate stage. Doing talks in schools to encourage young people, especially girls, into IT careers.
Q: What was the biggest step change on your journey?
Andrew: Changing from tiered offerings to just having one offering.
David: Separating from my business partner and going it alone. It allowed us to try new ideas.
Hollie: We went from on-demand analytics to managed services.
CompTIA Spotlight Awards
With a break in the afternoon to get changed into our eveningwear, the Awards Dinner began at 7pm in the evening.
The Spotlight Awards are a great way for the CompTIA UK Technology Community to celebrate the success of their peers.
Comedian Zoe Lyons was compere for the evening, and provided us with some great entertainment before the awards began.
The full list of winners can be found below:
CompTIA Technology Community Meeting: In Conclusion
All in all it was a great event. It presented the challenges we face as business owners, technology providers, and ambassadors of our industry, while celebrating our achievements so far, and out of uncertain times.
It was a chance to connect with people from all over the UK and Ireland, and some from overseas. To listen to their views on outsourcing, cybersecurity and how to encourage more women into IT careers.
Did you attend the CompTIA UK&I Business Technology Community Meeting? What was your highlight? We would love to hear your reactions in the comments.
If you’re interested in becoming a member of the CompTIA community, visit their website here.